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Policy

Research Plan For Nanotechnology

February 25, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 8

The federal task force responsible for setting research priorities for determining the safety of engineered nanotechnology materials has released its latest report. The document, "Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research," was prepared by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the government consortium of 20 agencies that regulate and fund nanotech research. The report lists federal priorities for nanotechnology and makes more specific research recommendations than the previous strategy document. Among the areas NNI says are in need of more research investments are improved analytical methods for identifying nanomaterials in biological systems, ways to extrapolate laboratory data to human exposures, and identification of the populations that are actually exposed to engineered nanoscale materials. The activist organization Environmental Defense and others are sharply critical of the strategy, saying that many of the research projects cited in the report are only marginally related to safety and health, and that insufficient funds are devoted to this area of research.

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